Since snuggling next to the CN Tower in the heart of Toronto’s culture, sports and business hub, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is taking “Friday night date night” to the next level. Not only can you take in education, conservation and research, you can hold your date’s hand in the presence of sharks … steal a kiss in front of fluorescent jellyfish … and sit on the dock of the bay listening to T.O’s latest jazz ensemble. All the while sipping on Canadian wine varietals for an alternative evening out.
Ripley’s made its debut on the Toronto scene in 2013, giving a threesome for all visitors to partake in with the Rogers Centre, CN Tower and now a spectacle tank filled with more than 5.7 million litres of water and over 16,000 varieties of the aquatic kind. Being North America’s longest underwater viewing capsule, this tunnel of love is certainly the place to let your gills do the whispering and share your mermaid stories as a gigantic hammerhead shark floats above you.
Arriving after a few drinks and dinner among skyscrapers on a rooftop patio, my plus one and I strolled into the glass entrance doors and submerged ourselves in the watery escapade. Even though we had to get our tickets and pass through the turnstile, it didn’t feel any different from going to the movies (which I have done on many a dates). But what was waiting for us on the other side was an underwater playground that had us entertaining the fish with funny faces and floundering with coral. Now it wasn’t exactly date-like as I wasn’t really on a night out with my true +one, but nonetheless the loved-up atmosphere was evident amongst the couples that were out on their date night.
Friday Night Jazz occurs every second Friday of the month and the music genre of choice can scat between traditional and new jazz sounds. Stacey Renee was on the main clam shell on this evening, whom I learned was the first group to play 2 1/2 years ago when the first Friday Night Jazz event opened. Even though Stacey Renee was the pioneer group from the get go and still plays at least twice a year, the aquarium has paved the way for many more jazz artists to swing their soulful tunes within the abyss. For only $125 (initially and then $100 renewal), the cost of an annual pass sure beats a jazz nite out with cover and 2 drink minimum at other clubs. PLUS THERE ARE SHARKS, how cool cat is that?!
It isn’t strictly limited to just pairs, I did see a couple of moms and dads holding hands while their kiddies played with Nemo. But it really didn’t take away from the ambiance, especially as I was sipping my glass of pinot on the slow moving track with a couple canoodling next to me, in between pointing at exotic sea creatures and back to their canoodling. Please … go get a private seabed already!
Still Planet Jellies with their colourful wall presented an amazing backdrop to the silhouettes of onlookers and of course who can resist petting stingrays in Ray Bay. It’s where the top of the tank gives way to even curious sharks looking for a little love and attention. So whether you are fish lover, jazz lover or just a lover, there is definitely something about a Friday night at the aquarium that lets us drift away from ashore and gaff into our underworld curiosities … and you might just lure a bait to hook, line and sinker as well, stranger things have happen I’m sure when sharks are around!
Jacob Lolarga, is an event marketing manager, emcee & cultural explorer … when he’s not running around town keeping up his event socialite status, he can be found planning his next #yolo adventure.
Friday Night Jazz, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Joseph Dutton, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Photo credit: Beth Beard and DangerGirl Photography